GroovyTek | Personal Technology Training

Fitness and Wellness Apps

Wednesday, June 12, 2019
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Workout and Calorie Counter App - MyFitnessPal

MyFitnessPal is a user-friendly app that tracks daily food intake and activity. It's Groovytek’s favorite fitness app. Many utilize this app for dieting, although it can also be used to maintain/gain weight or simply to be mindful of your daily caloric intake and exercise.

After downloading this app from your smartphone’s app store, the initial screens will ask a few questions to personalize your experience regarding things like weight goals, activity levels, gender, birthday, height, weight, and weekly goals (if desired).

After all of the necessary information has been collected, the app will ask for a few daily inputs. Here you will log each meal and snack of your day, allowing for the app to calculate daily calorie intake. A library of food is available for selection along with a personalized library of your own favorite meals and recipes. Based off of your height and weight data provided, the app will automatically produce the amount of calories needed for each day.

Along with food intake, the app has you record each activity throughout the day. After the exercise and activity is logged, a specific amount of calories will be detected. The calories burned automatically deducts from the daily intake.

Storing and calculating your every calorie may sound daunting. However, this app will help you easily stay on track with whatever health goals you may have. If this app doesn’t seem like the best fit for you and you’d rather keep your secret recipes to yourself, we have other technology resources that facilitate step tracking, heart beat monitoring, and overall wellness.

Steps and Pedometer Apps

MyFitnessPal is an efficient and simple resource to track your daily activity and eating habits. However, since this app requires user input... what happens if you don’t know exactly what your exercise is or how active you are? Well, there’s an app for that, too! Now we’re going to supply a few more resources to help you keep track of this information.

iPhones running iOS 8 or later (that is, iPhone 4S or later) come with a pre-installed step counter app. Since the iPhone 6s, Apple has added a motion detector chip inside the phone called an accelerometer. The accelerometer measures the force of acceleration in your phone, enabling the ability to calculate steps and movement.

If you do not have an iPhone 4S or later, or do not fancy having apps automatically appear in your phone, don’t worry. There are plenty of step counter apps and devices for your use. Stepz and Pacer Pedometer & Step Tracker are two third-party iPhone apps that act as step counters / pedometers. The apps both calculate and display daily information on how many steps you’ve taken, the distance you have walked, and estimated calories burned.

Most Android smartphones also have built-in hardware-level accelerometers. The newest devices may include an app called World Walking. When turned on this app will automatically track your steps. If your Android device does not have this software already installed, there are equally as many Android pedometer / step counter apps as there are for Apple devices. Google Fit is a good place to start as the go-to fitness resource for Android.

Heart Rate Trackers and Fitness Devices

Tracking one’s heart rate can be a vital part of daily activity monitoring. To some this might sound like the sort of thing only measured at the doctor's office or with a specialized personal heart rate monitor. However, using state-of-the-art technologies including fingertip recognition and pulse-sensing watches, heart rate can now easily be detected by numerous wearable (and even fashionable) devices.

Instant Heart Rate is an app for both iPhone and Android that measures heart rate without the use of a heart rate strap. The app will detect the user’s finger tip to determine the exact heart rate or pulse.

All-inclusive smart devices that include heart rate monitors and movement trackers are growing exponentially in popularity. Apple, Fitbit, and Garmin are a few of the major companies producing fitness trackers. The Apple Watch has built-in capabilities for step counting and heart rate monitoring, but both Fitbit and Garmin offer equivalent devices with small and sleek wristbands.

Sleep Tracking in Technology

As you may have guessed, there is also a plethora of sleep tracking resources for those struggling to get their forty winks in during the night. Sleep trackers in smart devices are essentially a sleep logging informational system. You can log your sleeping patterns and generally the app will detect sleeping patterns such as stages of sleep, insomnia, and how many hours per night you sleep. Most apps will then offer more information and tips based on the results shown.

CBT-i Coach, our favorite sleep tracker, was created in conjunction with the Verteran Affairs National Center for PTSD, the Stanford School of Medicine, and the Department of Defenses’ National Center for Telehealth and Technology. The idea initially derived from dealing with insomnia caused by PTSD and eventually expanded to a larger market.

The app entails four different insomnia prevention tools. The main feature is a sleep tracking log which asks for time spent awake, time fallen asleep, waking up and time spent before waking up. All of this information can be assessed in the app, providing information on current sleep symptoms. The second feature provides tools to create new sleep habits, to prevent future insomnia, and to calm your mind. Along with these tools there are informative articles on topics relating to sleep. The fourth feature is a reminder tool. The reminder tools can act as an alarm clock for bedtime or waking up. The feature also includes alarms for winding down, to help with cutting down on caffeine, or to update sleep prescriptions.

Mindfulness Apps for Stress and Anxiety

There are countless reasons behind stress and anxiety. Some stress and anxiety have straightforward, obvious, concrete explanations. At other times, depression can appear mysteriously for no apparent reason. No matter what the cause is, there are many technology resources to help ease your mind and to increase focus and mindfulness.

Our favorite app for stress is Headspace: Meditation and Sleep, available for both Apple and Android devices. This app offers a variety of techniques and guides through focus-centered meditation and practices.

This app is designed for mindfulness from a few different perspectives. The app will initially ask why the user wants to practice mindfulness: for sleep, stress, anxiety, health, etc. Within the app there are numerous courses related to the user’s particular goals. The courses entail a voice guiding the user through the specified practice.

To expand from Headspace, the app Calm also offers mindfulness strategies. Calm provides bedtime stories, soothing nighttime sounds as well as meditation techniques.

Some more of our favorite apps for generating calming music or white noise to help block out distractions so we can focus on a task, meditate, or simply drift off to sleep include the simple, free app Noizzz by Duffy Apps and Endel, an innovative subscription-based music generator.

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